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Posted on 1st November 2017

Nationwide Changes To NHS Helpline After Death Of Baby

When the parents of a 10 month old boy telephoned NHS 111, a call handler did not make sure the ill baby went to hospital. The baby later died in hospital.

The baby’s parents telephoned the service and were asked a series of questions by the call handler. As the call handler didn’t advise them to go straight to hospital, the family stayed at home.

Later that day the child was taken to see an out of hours doctor who failed to diagnose his illness and sent him home. The baby was suffering from an intestinal blockage which lead to a cardiac arrest.

His condition worsened so his parents took him to a hospital in York but doctors were unable to save the boy.

The coroner conclude “If responses to a triage telephone call had been appropriately processed, [the boy] would then have been presented at hospital and assessed and the outcome different”

Parents of the baby were “Deeply saddened by the findings of the inquest that had the 111 call operator properly performed her task, an ambulance would have been called and [their baby] would still be with us today” They continued “We understand there has been a change in national policy following his death and hope that as a result of the changes, other families don’t have to go through what we have been through.”


All medical staff have a duty of care towards the people they are helping and that duty of care also stretches to call handlers for NHS 111.

If a call to NHS 111 or 999 was not handled correctly which resulted in harm to a person requiring medical intervention, a compensation claim for medical negligence could be brought. In this case however the failings were not with medical staff, the problem was with the call handling software against which clinical negligence claims cannot be brought.

If you or a loved one has had to call emergency services and a delay in being attended to has occurred causing harm, you may be able to start a claim for compensation. Contact us on 0330 355 9210 or for a free claim assessment.